College freshman, 19, dies in Center City
Sorority rush and track meet changed after weekend death
January 18, 2014, 7:34 pm·
College freshman Madison Holleran, of Allendale, N.J., died on Friday night. She was 19 years old.
Holleran’s death was a suicide, according to Philadelphia police. She fell to her death off a parking garage at 1501 Spruce St. at 6:40 p.m. She was alone at the time of her death, police say. City medical examiner spokesperson Jeff Moran has not yet responded to multiple requests for comment.
Holleran lived in Hill College House and was a member of Penn’s varsity track and field team.
Holleran’s father, James Holleran, told the New York Post that pressures at Penn led to her death.
“There was a lot more pressure in the classroom at Penn. She wasn’t normal happy Madison. Now she had worries and stress,” he told the Post. “She knew she needed help. She had lost confidence in academics and she also lost confidence in her track abilities.”
Holleran told her parents about suicidal thoughts in December, and she was seeing a therapist, the Post reported. She left a note and gifts for her parents, though her father declined to elaborate on the contents.
However, James Holleran did not blame Penn for his daughter’s death, the Post reported.
The Holleran family did not respond to interview requests from The Daily Pennsylvanian.
Penn President Amy Gutmann released a statement about Holleran’s death Saturday afternoon.
“The entire Penn community is deeply saddened by the death of Madison Holleran,” Gutmann said in the statement. “She was bright and well-liked with an incredible future ahead of her. There are simply no words that can properly convey the sense of heartache that we all feel at such a tragic loss.”
A number of campus activities over the past several days were changed in response to her death.
The Panhellenic Council, the umbrella organization for social sororities on campus, postponed recruitment events on Saturday and today. Holleran was participating in formal sorority recruitment.
Saturday’s round of recruitment was postponed to Sunday after news of her death was disseminated on Saturday morning. Panhel also postponed today’s recruitment events because the funeral will take place this afternoon.
Panhel leaders denied multiple requests for interviews, instead issuing a prepared statement in response to questions emailed by the DP.
“The Panhellenic Council is incredibly saddened by the loss of Madison Holleran and wishes to express our deepest sympathies on behalf of the entire Panhellenic community for the Holleran family’s loss,” the statement said.
Both the men’s and women’s track and field teams were scheduled for all-day meets in Bethlehem, Pa., on Saturday. However, upon receiving the news of Holleran’s death, members of each team were given a choice regarding whether or not they would compete.
Her death was brought to the attention of the team’s coaches and staff early Saturday morning, Assistant Director of Athletic Communications Eric Dolan said. Holleran’s teammates were later made aware of the situation.
Though some of Holleran’s teammates chose to go to the Lehigh meet along with several assistant coaches, many remained on campus and spent the day in close contact with Director of Track and Field Steve Dolan.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with [Holleran’s] family and friends,” Steve Dolan said in a statement. “This is a challenging time for everyone involved with the program, but we will support each other in the weeks to come and help her teammates and friends find their own ways to honor her memory. We will always carry her in our hearts.”
Holleran’s death marks the third undergraduate death since the start of winter break. Wharton and Engineering senior Kevin Zhao died while traveling with his family in China over break. Wharton and Engineering junior Pulkit Singh died last Sunday in his off-campus house.
Holleran’s funeral will be held at Guardian Angel Church in Allendale, N.J., today at noon. In lieu of flowers, the Holleran family asks donations be made to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
This article was updated at 11:10 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20.
Senior writer Sarah Smith, General Assignments Editor Jody Freinkel, Campus News Editor Fiona Glisson and Sports Editor Riley Steele contributed reporting.
Anyone wishing to contribute comments for this story should email Managing Editor Amanda Suarez at email@example.com.